Susan Walsh of Hooking Up Smart took a high volume of aimed fire in the comments section of my post All the lonely feminist spinsters. I’m still working on my take on the 80/20 question the
dogpile discussion was about. To Susan’s great credit she hung in there and defended her own point of view. Following that she even had some fun with it in her own post titled Dating Back in the Day:
Yesterday commenters on another blog described Hooking Up Smart as a finishing school for hos, and me the headmistress who hasn’t been on a date since the Eisenhower era.
I’m about to turn 55 – there’s no question that my knowledge of hookup culture is entirely second hand, thankfully. Just for fun I’ve put together some images that describe my prime dating years.
In the discussion on that post the conversation turned to the topic of men refusing to date women they haven’t already had sex with. I summarized my argument from my recent post SMP searching costs and the unmourned death of courtship. After reading this, commenter Megaman galloped in to the conversation:
Very romantic. This seems ideal for a demanding boyfriend who wants a desperate girlfriend
Seriously though, if the woman gives the man what he wants first, what guarantee does she have that there will be any dates? This sounds more like dangling a carrot, so to speak. A pretense to get her into bed, nothing more. I can understand feeling resentful for being strung along (never had that experience), but to assume every woman will act that way seems extremely paranoid. It’s seems doubtful that guys who use this method actually want a serious relationship. I’ve never met one who did.
I reiterated my basic point, explaining that past a certain age the women who are likely to form lasting commitments have generally already done so:
Many women are looking to swing from man to man in “serial monogamy”, which is the female preferred form of promiscuity. Plus you have women abusing the courtship tradition. Susan referenced a woman in a post a while back who had been on 87 first dates in two years. Men don’t do that, because they foot the bill both financially and emotionally in that situation. Smart men will get wise to this and not waste their time with this sort of woman. The best way to manage this is to make sure she is taking some of the risk. Sex in the uncommitted market (which is what we are talking about, these aren’t Amish women choosing a husband) works as a sort of relationship earnest money. It separates the serious buyers from the lookiloos, and proves the woman has some skin in the game before the man invests in her emotionally and financially.
Susan replied with an excellent question:
Do you think that a man will ever invest in her emotionally? Will he not hold that easy access against her, earnest or no, because it looks like (maybe is) promiscuity?
This really is an excellent question. My best guess is emotional investment from men is highly unlikely. I base this on the woman in question’s past history. After divorcing at 45, Ginger Emas tells us on her Huffington Post profile that she went on a manhunt:
In the years since her divorce she’s been called a muse, a MILF and a cougar; she’s sped through speed dating and been unlocked at lock-and-key parties. She went on 87 first dates in two years, joined half a dozen dating websites and received 48,000 views on Match.com –- the groundwork for Back on Top.
After failing to make a committed connection with nearly 50,000 men (nearly a hundred of whom she went on dates with), Ms. Emas felt like she had become an expert on women finding commitment after divorce; so she wrote a book. To be fair, she had even more experience than the quote above references. She also had a great deal of previous experience:
Ginger left her corporate job to move to Atlanta, telling everyone she wanted to go out on her own, but the truth is she had dated all of the eligible men in the tri-city Mecklenburg area and needed a larger pool. She met and married her husband in Atlanta, but after thirteen years of marriage (and 14 years of couples counseling) they divorced, and Ginger lost a husband but created a divorce so friendly that her dad often forgets she’s no longer married.
This isn’t dating, this is an industrial scale mining operation.
So this brings us back to Susan’s question; how likely is a lasting emotional attachment? Based on the sheer numbers of men this woman doesn’t connect with, I would say for any given man the likelihood is vanishingly small. Granted not all women operate on this scale. But if you are a man in this kind of dating environment, the sheer numbers of dates women like this rack up means they are the ones men are most likely to encounter. We’ve seen this before with the dater from More judging the performance. She went on over 100 dates in just one year, and is still at it. Blogger Big Little Wolf doesn’t tell us in her post Page 19 how many men she has dated looking for one she can have a connection with, but she does tell us that it is enough to leave her exhausted.
The other part of the equation is who will form an emotional attachment first, thereby taking on the emotional risk? Women who are waiting for emotional attachment before offering sex are requiring the man to prove his emotional investment upfront. This is the whole point. But these same women are going through large (sometimes massive) numbers of men in the process. They expect each man to try to develop an emotional connection with her so she can determine if she wants to have sex with them and/or form some sort of uncommitted relationship. From her point of view, this is rational. Moving the risk to another party makes sense, especially in such an incredibly low yield activity. But it is just as rational for men in this scenario to want to do the same.